“THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FAMILY ANNIHILATORS” and More True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Between the years 1925 and 1927, a young teenage girl named Eleonore Zugun from Romania, became the most closely observed, investigated and tested poltergeist victim of the 20th century. Her story is terrifying. (The Romanian Poltergeist Girl) *** When you become a celebrity, you expect certain individuals to go past being fans and into being fanatics. Even stalkers. It’s always been that way. Not even Clark Gable was spared – and one woman named Violet made his life a living nightmare. (Dear Mr. Gable) *** There is a rumor that Jacques Cousteau dove to the bottom of Lake Tahoe and filmed a creature but did not release the film saying that “The world was not yet ready for what’s down there”. What is at the bottom of Lake Tahoe? (The Lake Tahoe Monster) *** There is a type of mass murder that draws true-crime connoisseurs like no other… familicide, more often called family annihilation. It is a crime that has invoked horror and fascination in equal measures. (The Psychology of Family Annihilators) *** (Originally aired October 14, 2020)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“The Psychology of Family Annihilators” and “Family Annihilators Case Studies” by Fiona Guy for Crime Traveler:https://tinyurl.com/y3av5wxn, and Jody Allen for Stay At Home Mum: https://tinyurl.com/y2fuwnhh
“Dear Mr. Gable” is from Deranged LA Crimes: https://tinyurl.com/yyqletev, https://tinyurl.com/y4bou5s2
“The Romanian Poltergeist Girl” from Euro Paranormal: https://tinyurl.com/y59b7ojt
“The Lake Tahoe Monster” by Richard Freeman for Fortean Zoology: https://tinyurl.com/y4fxsdue
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From the outside, Chris Watts looked like he had it made. He had two beautiful daughters, Bella aged 4, and little Celeste 3. His wife, Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with a much wanted baby boy. He had a successful job for a Gas and Oil company and from the outside, the family had an idealistic life. But inside, the family were crumbing. The couple had extensive financial problems. Medical bills had stacked up as Shannan had a severe case of lupus. They had previously filed for bankruptcy and their credit card bills were out of control. Shanann had a job working in a call centre, and her own small business in a multi-level-marketing position was taking off which was taking her away from the family home on the odd weekend for meetings and training. Watts had supported his wife throughout her illness and the couple where shocked when she first become pregnant as they had been told it would be nearly impossible for her to conceive due to the lupus. A second precious daughter came along soon afterwards. But Chris Watts was tired of family life. He yearned to be a bachelor. He wanted a life free from the constrains of raising children and being financially responsible. Watts had started an affair with a co-worker. He had told his mistress he was seeking a divorce from Shanann. Shanann had noticed her husband’s suspicious behavior and had confronted him repeatedly after noticing restaurant and hotel charges on the credit card. On the 13th August 2019, Shanann was returning from a business trip in Arizona. She had her best friend Nickole pick her up from the airport and drop her home. Nickole knew of their marital troubles and had told Nickole that Chris didn’t want another baby and that he felt that they were no longer compatible as a couple. Shanann had also told her friend that she didn’t feel safe with Chris after what he said about the baby.’
It was the last time she was seen alive. Later the same day, Nickole became concerned when Shanann failed to attend a pre-natal appointment and wasn’t returning her text messages or calls. She reported it to the police. The police undertook a welfare check on the family. The house was searched by Police where they found Shanann’s handbag, mobile phone and car keys. Both the girls car seats were also inside the home. The Police started their investigation. The Watts’ neighbour had a surveillance camera that proved that Shanann had not left the house, but showed Chris Watt loaded suspicious-looking packages into the back of his vehicle. But Watt’s was unconcerned about his family’s whereabouts. He had un-enrolled the girls from their pre-school and had set up appointments to sell the family home. He was also seeking deals for a holiday in Aspen. The Police arrested Watts on suspicion of murder. He subsequently confessed that Shanann had strangled the two girls, and he had killed his wife in a fit of rage. Police located the bodies of Shanann and their two daughters in oil tanks at his place of employment. Chris Watts eventually pleaded to the murders of all three of his family members, and his unborn son, Niko. He has been sentenced to life without parole.
Chris Watts is just one of numerous examples of what we’ve come to classify as family annihilators.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
When you become a celebrity, you expect certain individuals to go past being fans and into being fanatics. Even stalkers. It’s always been that way. Not even Clark Gable was spared – and one woman named Violet made his life a living nightmare. (Dear Mr. Gable)
Between the years 1925 and 1927, a young teenage girl named Eleonore Zugun from Romania, became the most closely observed, investigated and tested poltergeist victim of the 20th century. Her story is terrifying. (The Romanian Poltergeist Girl)
There is a rumor that Jacques Cousteau dove to the bottom of Lake Tahoe and filmed a creature but did not release the film saying that “The world was not yet ready for what’s down there”. What is at the bottom of Lake Tahoe? (The Lake Tahoe Monster)
There is a type of mass murder that draws true-crime connoisseurs like no other… familicide, more often called family annihilation. It is a crime that has invoked horror and fascination in equal measures. (The Psychology of Family Annihilators)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FAMILY ANNIHILATORS=====
Familicide is defined as one family member who murders other members of their family, commonly taking the lives of all. It is most often used to describe cases where a parent, usually the father, kills his wife and children and then himself. These cases are horrifying acts which can wipe out an entire family, leaving relatives, friends, and colleagues stunned and confused. Often no outward signs were visible to suggest anyone was in danger or that there was a risk of an individual taking such horrific actions. It is a crime that has invoked horror and fascination in equal measures. For those with an interest in why such horrific crimes take place and how an individual can murder their own family, such cases are explored in detail.
Familicide is commonly intertwined with the term ‘family annihilator’ stemming from the act itself, that of family annihilation. Most researchers agree that this act is a form of mass murder due to the multiple victims involved.
Chillingly in the UK, statistics suggest that a child is more likely to be killed by a parent than by a stranger and in most cases, the killer takes his own life after the act. There is no court case, no opportunity to find out why and whether or not this was planned murder or an act which was spontaneous due to thoughts at that very moment. Those left behind can only speculate on what may have caused someone they loved to kill their family, and most often, take the lives of innocent children.
Criminologists have been conducting increasing research into the phenomenon of familicide and in the process have produced many terms and definitions to describe such acts and distinguish them from each other. Familicide, the family annihilator, murder-suicides and family murders are all terms which have been used to describe cases where a family member has killed other family members.
The varied definitions of the term ‘familicide’ can make a comparison of studies and cases challenging. Familicide sits among a number of types of family murder, all the term ‘‘ which means ‘the act of killing‘ in Latin, often adding to the confusion over terminology.
Parricide, the killing of one’s parents. Matricide, the killing of one’s mother, specifically. Patricide, the killing of one’s father, specifically. Siblicide, the killing of one’s sibling – that is, one’s brother or sister. Fratricide, the killing of one’s brother, specifically. Sororicide, the killing of one’s sister, specifically. Filicide, the killing of one’s child. Uxoricide, the killing of one’s wife. Mariticide, the killing of one’s husband.
A research study published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice in 2013 by Elizabeth Yardley, David Wilson and Adam Lynes has been particularly influential in this field. They analyzed newspaper articles over three decades from 1980 to 2012 where cases of familicide were reported. They found a total of 71 cases where 59 of the perpetrators were male and over half were between the ages of 30-40 years old when they committed the crime.
Yardley, Wilson, and Lynes reported that 57% of cases they studied occurred inside the family home compared to 17% in an isolated country spot no doubt pre-selected by the offender. In 32% of cases, the method of killing was stabbing followed by 15% of cases involving carbon monoxide poisoning from a car exhaust. Most offenders were employed and aged between 30 and 39 years old at the time of the murders. In 68% of cases, the male annihilator committed suicide after the murders.
Professor David Wilson has stated that “family annihilators have received little attention as a separate category of killer” and they are “often treated like spree or serial murderers, a view which presupposes traits, such as the idea that the murderer ‘snaps’, or that after killing their partner or children the killer may force a standoff with the police“, which is not an entirely accurate representation of these killers.
In contrast to other groups, such as serial killers and mass murderers, these were found to be individuals with good backgrounds.
They were not known to the police or the criminal justice system; they often had good jobs, families, and friends around them. They can be very successful people in their lives and not the kind of person who it is perceived would kill anyone never mind their entire family.
As highlighted by Professor Jack Leven, Professor of Sociology and Criminology Emeritus at Northeastern University in Boston, the profile of a man who kills his family “is a middle-aged man, a good provider who would appear to neighbors to be a dedicated husband and a devoted father.”
Researchers also identified four common areas which may be the causes of such family murders; a breakdown in the family relationship and issues surrounding access to children, money worries and financial hardship, cultural honor killings and mental illness.
These findings echo the conclusions drawn from a 2009 study by Leveillee and colleagues who examined 16 cases of familicide in Quebec between 1986 and 2000. They found that social loss, economic reasons, mental illness, and intimate partner loss were the most common likely causes of murder-suicide within a family.
Two more recent literature reviews carried out into familicide also provide some key points when focusing on the profile of a family annihilator.
Psychologist Sharon Mailloux found offenders to be predominantly male and in a long term relationship with possessive tendencies over his family, in her literature review published in 2014 in the Journal of Family Violence. Employment issues, problems with substance misuse and a history of domestic violence also featured across the cases she studied. Divorce or separation was found to be a trigger point.
In 2017, Anna Liisa Aho, Anni Remahl and, Eija Paavilainen from Tampere University in Finland examined the background factors that may be involved in familicide in Western countries. They found familicide offenders were mostly highly educated men with psychological problems, depression, self-destructiveness and substance abuse issues. Past violent behavior and unsteady social relationships were also prevalent.
A person who can hate more than love his or her own family. And hate enough to do the unthinkable. Family annihilators are not a new thing, as long as there has been relationships go bad, there have been these evil people whose sole purpose is to either wipe their whole family off the face of the earth, or to punish the person who dared to leave them. Here are a few case studies of familicide other than that of Chris Watts which began this episode with:
The case of Bruce Blackman, a 22-year-old man in British Columbia is a tragic example of how mental illness can be involved in cases of familicide. In the weeks leading up to the killings, his room-mate reportedly noticed strange behavior from Blackman where he claimed to be getting messages from the Bible and believed the world was going to end. Blackman drove to his parents’ house on 18 January 1983. Once there he shot both his parents and his younger brother with a .22 caliber rifle. He called his elder sisters, who no longer lived in the family home, and fatally shot them and his brother-in-law when they arrived. Found walking near the crime scene he was arrested and charged with murder. Bruce Blackman was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a psychiatric unit for treatment. Released from the hospital in 1995, he now has a new identity, however, must forever live with the fact that he murdered his family in 1983. Researchers have focused on any link between borderline personality disorder and familicide and while some evidence was found that could conclude a causal link, in such a rare crime it is difficult to draw any solid conclusions as to the role of such mental disorders within this crime.
The case of Scott Peterson. Laci Petersen was eight months pregnant with a baby boy when she went missing just before Christmas. It was the 24th December. Her husband, Scott Petersen said that he had left to go fishing Berkely Marina. He had told other people he had planned to play golf on Christmas Eve. Scott said that when he left home, Laci was about to take the dog out for a walk. Later that day, the Petersen’s dog was found wandering with a leash attached. There was no sign of Laci. Scott Petersen returned home later in the day. There was no sign of Laci, even though her vehicle was in the driveway. At 5:15pm, Scott called his Mother in Law and Laci’s Stepfather, who called the Police. The Police arrived to find the dining room table of the Petersen house was fully set for Christmas. Laci’s purse, keys and sunglasses were on the bench. A huge scale search was undertaken looking for Laci. Scott Petersen didn’t seem worried, and this worried the police. After a few weeks and still no sign of Laci, a member of the public, Amber Frey, called the Police. She couldn’t understand why her boyfriend, Scott Petersen, was on the television and billboards looking for his wife. Petersen had told his mistress, Amber, he was single, he also told her he was over in Paris. All of this was whilst Scott was attending a memorial service for his wife. Police had Amber tape multiple phone-calls with Scott, trying to get him to confess to the murder of his wife. Amber fully cooperated with Police and recorded an astounding 27 hours of recordings, whilst trying not to let him know the Police were onto him. In April, the remains of a male fetus washed up ashore near where Scott Petersen had been fishing. The next day, the partial remains of a female washed up – no head, no arms or legs. DNA proved that the remains were that of Laci Petersen and their unborn son, Connor. Petersen was arrested soon after as he had changed his appearance and Police feared he would try and run. He had with him camping equipment, four mobile phones, had grown a goatee beard and had dyed his hair blonde. He was charged with two counts of murder. Although no forensic evidence could be found for the murders, it was the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that put Scott Petersen behind bars. The fact he had a girlfriend who knew nothing of his wife, the fact he went fishing when she disappeared and contents of the taped telephone calls. Petersen had also taken out a $250,000 life insurance policy on his wife. The prosecution for the case say the reason for the killings were that Scott and Lacy had increased debt, the pressure of a child, and Scott’s desire to be single again.
Then there’s John List. John List was a father of three in 1971 in New Jersey who shot and killed his wife, all three children, and his mother before fleeing and building himself a new life. A 46-year-old accountant, John List struggled to maintain his employment and pay his mortgage and had been stealing money from his elderly mother. Police officers discovered the bodies of his family inside the family home on 7 December 1971 along with a note he had written to his pastor, expressing his concern that there was ‘too much evil’ in the world and he had taken the lives of his family to ‘save their souls’. With his car found at Kennedy International Airport, it soon became clear Mr. List had fled but despite extensive searches, he could not be found. In 1989 the TV program ‘America’s Most Wanted’ became involved in the case and presented a show featuring his story along with an image of how John List may have looked 18 years after he was last seen. John List was arrested ten days later after being recognized by a neighbor as a man who lived next door with his wife going by the name of Robert Clark. Upon his arrest, he denied being John List until confronted with fingerprint matches. Convicted of murder, he was sentenced to five life sentences. In a television interview in 2002, John List claimed he did not take his own life as he wanted to be reunited with his family in heaven. He died in prison aged 82 in 2008.
Then there’s the case of Steven Sueppel. Steven Sueppel was a 42-year-old former bank vice president on bail for embezzlement charges to the tune of $560,000 from his own bank in Iowa City, Iowa. Admitting the fraud and resigning from his position, he was distraught and devastated by the shame of his actions. In March 2009 he murdered his wife and four children before leaving numerous voicemails for family members and ex-colleagues, apologizing and expressing the shame he had brought upon his family was “too much to bear”. He had beat his wife to death and led his children between the ages of 3 and 10 years old to the garage, where he tried unsuccessfully to kill them and himself with carbon monoxide poisoning. When that failed it is thought he beat the children to death in the same manner he had his wife. Steven Sueppel called emergency services and told them to go to his house, he then drove his car into a concrete pillar on the Interstate, killing himself when his van exploded into flames.
Next is the case of John Hogan. John Hogan was a 32-year-old man from Bristol with a wife and two children. By all appearances, he was happy and successful in his professional and personal life. In August 2006 without any warning while on a family holiday in Crete, he threw his six-year-old son, Liam Hogan, off their fourth-floor apartment balcony, killing him instantly. He then jumped off the 50ft high balcony himself with his 2-year-old daughter Mia Logan in his arms. Both he and little Mia survived the fall with broken bones. After the tragedy, it was revealed the couple were having marital troubles and had argued, signaling an end to the marriage, just before John Hogan took the actions he did. John Hogan was accused of murder and attempted murder and spent three years in psychiatric hospitals and Greek jails after pleading temporary insanity. He was a broken man in dealing with the actions he took on that day. In 2008 he was acquitted of his son’s murder in Greece and in 2009 he was released from psychiatric care to return to the UK. While one man tries to come to terms with the fact he murdered his own son and tried to murder his daughter in the most horrific of ways, Natasha Visser, the children’s mother and her family have been left angered by a not guilty verdict and the decision to allow him to return to the UK as a free man with no convictions. It is understood John Hogan entered in-patient psychiatric care upon his return and has agreed not to try and contact his daughter. The Crown Prosecution Service chose not to retry John Hogan for murder in the UK. Mental health is often questioned in these cases with an assumption of a disordered mental state from the father who has made a decision to kill all members of his immediate family. In Leveillee’s 2009 study, they found that 68% of those who killed their family had a history of depressive symptoms and 38% showed borderline traits of a personality disorder.
Another case is that of John Sharpe. John Sharpe and his wife Anna had been arguing. They were arguing a lot lately. Anna was pregnant with their second child but John didn’t seem to care about the pregnancy. He didn’t attend the ultrasound, and hardly even murmured a response when Anna told him the sex of the baby. John had struggled with the birth of their daughter Gracie a few years back. Gracie had hip dysplasia, which meant she had to be strapped into a corrective harness. This made Gracie irritable, she cried a lot. She had trouble eating and trouble sleeping to the point where Anna had to seek professional help. John was disillusioned by both his wife, who wore the pants in the family, and his child, who did nothing but cry. He didn’t want another child. So he took care of it. In 2003, John Sharpe went down to the local fishing supplies store and bought a speargun. He spent hours in the back yard firing the gun, practicing. Learning how it worked. He hadn’t shown any interest in spear fishing before. On the 23rd March 2004, the couple argued yet again before bed. John casually got up, retrieved the speargun from the shed, and fired it into his wife’s temple. But she didn’t die. So John fired a second spear into Anna’s head. This one had the desired effect. He covered Anna’s body with towels and went to bed on the downstairs sofa-bed. The next day, John took Gracie to daycare. When he got home, he tried to pull the spears from his wife’s body, but could only remove part of them. He then buried her in the backyard. He went back to the fishing supplies store to purchase more spears. Six days after killing his wife, John put Gracie to bed, and downed a few potent alcoholic drinks. He loaded the new spear and fired it into Gracie’s skull. Gracie screamed, John went running to grab the two spears he had removed from his wife and fired both into Gracie. But she still lived. So he pulled one of the spears out of Gracie, and again, shot the spear into her head. He bundled her body into a garbage bag and disposed of her body at the local transfer station. John then pretended that Anna had taken Gracie and gone to live with Anna’s new lover. Anna’s family were suspicious – it wasn’t like Anna never to call. Then Anna’s mother received a bunch of flowers from Anna with a note – her mother then knew something terrible had happened. It took two months for Police to investigate the disappearance of Anna and Gracie. Finally, after multiple Police interviews, he admitted to the murders of Anna, her unborn child and their daughter Gracie. John Sharpe told Police he had killed Anna because she was moody and irritable and tended to be controlling. He said their marriage was ‘loveless’. Police believe that Sharpe may have killed Anna because she uncovered the sexual abuse of Gracie by her father. The bodies were recovered and Sharpe was sentenced to two consecutive life terms of imprisonment. He resides in protective custody due to ongoing threats of harm by other prisoners.
And one more case. Robert Farquharson was ticked off. He and his wife Cindy had separated a few months back. He hadn’t taken it well. He was prescribed anti-depressants and saw a psychologist to deal with breakup. But now, Cindy had a new man. They would never be together again. She lived with her new man in HIS house, with HIS sons, and they were driving THE GOOD CAR. All he drove was a crappy Commodore. How dare she. She got everything, and Robert perceived that he got nothing. Robert wanted vengeance. He wanted Cindy to pay. On Father’s Day in 2005, Robert Farquahason did the unthinkable. He was due to drop his three sons back to Cindy. He never arrived. Instead he drove his car with his three sons strapped into the back into a cold, dark, deep dam. He then flagged down the first car he could find. Instead of calling the Police, Robert only wanted to do one thing, to see Cindy. The driver dropped Robert off at his ex-wife Cindy’s home where he knocked on the door. When Cindy answered he said ‘I’ve killed the kids’. Cindy’s new partner, flew to the dam and tried desperately to save the boys. But it was too late. The vehicle was retrieved from the water 2am the next day. All three boys were still inside the vehicle, although Jai, the eldest son, was out of his seatbelt. It is believed he tried to get his brothers out of the car. Robert told Police he had a coughing fit and blacked out, and that’s why the car ended up the dam. However a few months before, he had told a mate that he intended to kill his children to get back at his wife. Robert Farquaharson was charged with life imprisonment with a 33 year minimum.
Familicide is a very difficult concept for any of us to get our head around. We have all faced problems and difficulties in our lives but very few of us resort to such drastic and terrifying actions. What makes one individual decide to murder their family before themselves is a question still being asked.
Coming up next… when you become a celebrity, you expect certain individuals to go past being fans and into being fanatics. Even stalkers. It’s always been that way. Not even Clark Gable was spared – and one woman named Violet made his life a living nightmare.
Between the years 1925 and 1927, a young teenage girl named Eleonore Zugun from Romania, became the most closely observed, investigated and tested poltergeist victim of the 20th century. Her story is terrifying.
These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: DEAR MR. GABLE=====
From 1931 to 1932, Clark Gable went from relatively unknown to a superstar. Bags crammed full of fan letters from adoring women, and the occasional man, arrived at MGM. One male fan described Gable in a letter to Picture Play magazine:
“Tall, dark, and steely eyed, he walks among men, yet strangely apart from his fellows. One minute a nobody, and then–a giant of the screen! Just one more actor looking for his coffee and cake and then–a star of stars!”
Seeing him in films like “Dance, Fools, Dance,” “The Finger Points,” and “A Free Soul,” women compared Gable to earlier heart-throb, Rudolph Valentino.
Movies provided a welcome escape for Depression-weary audiences. Among the throngs of movie-goers was Violet Wells Norton. She sat in a darkened theater in Canada, her eyes glued to the screen. Everyone else in the audience saw Clark Gable. Violet didn’t see Gable, she saw Frank Billings, the father of her daughter Gwendolyn.
Violet met Frank Billings in 1923 in Billericay, Essex, England. Billings was her neighbor and one night he overheard Violet and the man she called her husband arguing. Offering a shoulder to cry on, and a warm bed to lie in, Frank Billings fathered a daughter Violet named Gwendolyn.
Frank had no interest in fatherhood, and even less in a woman he considered damaged goods. He abandoned her and left for his home in the U.S. Violet did not see Frank again until years later when he appeared before her on a movie screen.
In 1925 Violet married Herbert James Norton and moved with him to Winnipeg, Canada. They separated on November 23, 1934.
For two years Violet wrote to Gable. She never received a reply. Gable was aware of the letters and ignored them as the ravings of a crank.
Violet traveled to Hollywood in October 1936 to confront Gable with his teenaged daughter Gwendolyn and convince him to set up a trust fund for her education. Or, failing that, purchase one or all of the four scripts she penned: Gipsy Nell’s Revenge, Love in a Cottage, Love at First Sight and The Spirit Mother.
Gable turned Violet’s letters over to police. He said he was never in England, never met Violet, and was not a papa.
Federal authorities indicted Violet for mail fraud. The letter on which the Feds based the mail fraud charge came from 451 Cumberland Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada,mailed on March 9, 1936, addressed to Clark Gable, MGM, Beverly Hills, and signed Violet N.
Following her indictment, Violet addressed the press.
“Don’t misconstruct (sic) me!” she said.
She explained that she merely asked “Gables”, as she called him, to support her daughter or buy her scripts. Violet asserted her requests were reasonable. From her jail cell, she said, “He looks like the Frank Billings I knew in 1923. I’d like to see him in person.”
Gable dismissed Violet’s accusations as “silly and fantastic.”
In her effort to prove that Clark Gable fathered her daughter, Gwendolyn, Violet mounted a vigorous media campaign. If you believed her story, he was the man who seduced and abandoned her 14 years earlier in a sleepy English village.
There was limited support for Violet’s fantastical tale. In fact, other than her immediate family (and even they weren’t enthusiastic), Violet’s only supporter was H. Newton, a Birmingham, England factory inspector.
In an interview with the London Daily Express, Newton confirmed that a man calling himself Frank Billings, who bore a striking resemblance to Gable, ran a poultry farm at Billericay “around 1918-1919”. The dates supplied by Newton were a few years earlier than Violet’s alleged affair.
Newton studied a photo of Gable and said, “That either is Frank Billings or his double, even to the trick of folding one hand over the other. Yes, he has the same brow, nose, temples and twisted, cynical half-smile.”
Adding another layer of absurdity to the unfolding story was a penny postcard mailed from Tacoma, Washington. It read, “Dear Sir—The lady is right—Frank Billings is the father of her child, but I am the man. Also am a perfect double for C.G.”
Several of Gable’s friends, acquaintances, and a former wife received subpoenas to appear in court. Among those supoenaed was Jimmy Fidler, a radio personality and journalist. Violet wrote to Fidler offering to sell him “for a price” the story of her affair with Clark Gable, the man she knew as Frank Billings.
Violet shared with Fidler her version of how Gable got his screen name. She wrote:
“In Billericay, Essex, England where I was wooed and won by a man known as Frank Billings, but who I now believe to be Clark Gable, this man told me of his love. I later learned, through pictures and a story in a film fan magazine, that he had changed his name to Clark Gable. It is my belief that he got his name in this way—our grocer, in Billericay was named Clark and he owned an estate he called The Gables. Hence Clark Gables.”
Yes, Violet frequently referred to the actor as Gables and was apparently unaware of his birthname, William Clark Gable.
The letters to Fidler weren’t the only ones Violet wrote. She attempted to correspond with Mae West, but West’s publicist, Terrell De Lapp, intercepted the missive during a routine vetting of Miss West’s incoming mail.
The letter received at Paramount Studio in January 1936 read:
“Dear Mae West—How would you like to be fairy godmother to Clark Gable’s child. Nothing could be more lovely than for you, Miss West, to be fairy godmother to my Gwendolyn, and put Clark Gable to shame.”
Despite Violet’s attempts to garner support from Fidler and West, and who knows how many others, Gable had no difficulty refuting her claims. He produced witnesses from the Pacific Northwest to prove that during the time he was allegedly impregnating his accuser, he was selling neckties and working as a lumberjack in Oregon.
Gable’s first wife, Josephine Dillon, was steadfast in her defense of her former spouse.
“Clark and I were married in December 1924. But I knew him the year before in Portland, Oregon when he attended my dramatic classes. To my knowledge, he has never been in England. It is sure he was not there in 1923 or 1924 when we were married, and, therefore, could not be the father of a 13-year-old girl born there at that time.”
Violet’s accusation was ludicrous, but on the plus side the trial afforded hundreds of women an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the man who would become The King of Hollywood. Secretaries and stenographers in the Federal Building held an impromptu reception for him. He autographed mementoes and chatted with them. They were in heaven.
In the hallway prior to testifying, Gable chain smoked and appeared a little nervous. He told reporters:
“It’s my first court appearance. I don’t know what to expect.”
In court, Gable testified that he did not recognize the woman in court.
For her part, Violet remarked sotto voce to her attorney:
“That’s him. I’d know him anywhere.”
Courtroom spectators, keen to see Gable face his alleged progeny, were disappointed when he wasn’t required to appear during her testimony.
Judge Cosgrave wasn’t well-pleased that Gwendolyn was subpoenaed to appear.
“I regret that this witness has to be called at all, and I insist that her examination be limited only to extremely necessary points bearing on the charges in the indictment.”
Gwendolyn had nothing substantive to a add to her mother’s scheme—the girl was Violet’s pawn.
The jury began deliberations at 3:40 pm on April 23, 1937 and returned with their verdict at 5:20 pm. They found Violet guilty of fraudulent usage of the mails.
As Gwendolyn attempted to console her distraught mother, reporters reached Gable by telephone. He said:
“Of necessity, the woman’s charges were false, in view of the fact that I have never been in England and had never seen her until the trial began. It is unfortunate, of course, the she must come to grief in this manner, particularly because of her children.”
U.S. Attorney Powell, who prosecuted Violet, was not as understanding as Gable.
“This woman should be made an example, that men of Clark Gable’s type cannot be crucified in such a manner.”
Powell went on to describe Clark’s ascent to stardom:
“Clark Gable has pulled himself up by the bootstraps, out of an obscure background. He worked as a lumberjack, longshoreman, struggling actor, to achieve the ambition which drove him on to a $250,000-a-year salary.”
Attorney Morris Lavine, who would handle Violet’s appeals, defended her.
“She was simply calling to her sweetheart. She was sincere,” he said.
It is doubtful that Morris Lavine believed a word Violet said, but he was an attorney known to go the extra mile for a client. Violet was lucky to have him as her appeals attorney. He was a fascinating man and the self-described “defender of the damned.”
The appeal Lavine filed on Violet’s behalf was nothing short of brilliant. He contended that her letter did not fall within the statute concerning mail fraud.
The court agreed with Lavine and ruled in Violet’s favor in October 1937. They characterized Violet’s plan as “a scheme to coerce or extort and is a species of blackmail.”
If local authorities had filed on Violet for blackmail or extortion she would have done more time.
In February 1938, following the success of her appeal, Violet faced deportation. An action was filed on the grounds that she had overstayed her visa and that she committed a crime involving moral turpitude. Lavine told reporters that Violet would stay with a sister in Vancouver.
Gwendolyn did not accompany her mother to Canada. She was placed in a private school by a local religious organization and was required to remain there until June.
Was Violet a greedy blackmailer or a delusional dreamer? We’ll never know for sure.
Clark Gable received thousands of fan letters over the course of his decades long career. Violet’s letter was an unwelcome anomaly. The adoring letter written to him by Judy Garland in the movie Broadway Melody of 1938 was probably a more accurate depiction of the kinds of letters he received.
As Judy writes she sings, ‘You Made Me Love You.” She performed the song earlier, in 1936, at Gable’s birthday party. It is one reason she got the part in the film which helped launch her career.
STORY: THE ROMANIAN POLTERGEIST GIRL=====
It has been almost 100 years now since Eleonore Zugun, a young teenager from Romania, became the most closely observed, investigated and tested poltergeist girl of the 20th century. The disturbing poltergeist phenomena which pursued her across Europe makes the case one of the most remarkable and well-attested on record. It is also the first poltergeist cases in which Freudian psychoanalysis came to be applied to the girl at the centre. American researcher D. Scott Rogo considered that the idea of “a sexual base for the poltergeist…was only suggested by the Zugun case”. Thus, it played a part in cementing the link between adolescence and poltergeist activity which is a standard connection made today.
The case began in 1925 when violent poltergeist activity broke out around the then 11-year old Eleonore Zugun after an argument with her grandmother during a visit. Her grandmother’s home was reportedly struck by a rain of stones, breaking windows. Inside small objects began flying around Eleonore. She was packed off back to her parental home in Talpa quickly the day after. On arriving home, the manifestations continued, terrifying her father and step-mother. Fearing that evil forces were at work, Eleonore was brought before the local priest, a Father Macarescu who soon witnessed manifestations for himself and by a young man. A jug full of water rose in the air and a heavy trunk rocked up and down soon after Eleonore had sat on it. The next evening a trunk was seen to move itself by Nicolai Ostafi. Soon after a board for mixing porridge rose up and struck Ostafi on the head, inflicting a wound. An exorcism failed to quell manifestations and Eleonore was sent to the small 18th century monastery at Govorei for prayers. The phenomena continued unabated. She was then moved to a mental asylum for adults, apparently after press coverage about the phenomena and concerns about her treatment.
The press coverage came to the attention of the German papers leading to a visit from a German psychical researcher Fritz Grunewald of Berlin. He travelled to Talpa and located Eleonore and could find no abnormality in her. He intended to pursue the case but unfortunately, Grunewald died suddenly from a heart attack when making a brief return to Berlin. Fortunately, Eleonore’s case was taken up by a remarkable young Austrian aristocrat Countess Zoe Wassilko-Serecki (1897-1966) who spoke Romanian.
The Countess duly re-traced the path of the deceased Herr Grunwald back to Talpa in September 1925, funded by the most influential figure in German psychical research Baron Schrenck-Notzing. She succeeded in contacting Eleonore and her family again and decided to take Eleonore to Austria. After paying money to Eleonore’s father and step-mother to take Eleonore into her care, the Countess was duly granted permission to take the girl out of the family peasant environment and taking her back with her to Vienna for investigation. It was not rushed – Eleonore eventually reached Vienna on 29 January 1926. The Countess at once moved Eleonore into her flat, allowing her to live there for months under close observation by the Countess and psychical researchers.
Often the separation of the adolescent poltergeist focus from the domestic environment seems to bring an end to the phenomena. However, this did not occur. Eleonore’s arrival in Vienna was soon marked with further poltergeist activity. The first incident was the fall of a silver spoon reported by a maid; it seems from her log of phenomena, the Countess initially had doubts about how it was occasioned, showing she was not minded to be duped by the young Eleonore.
More upsetting for the household was the displacement of an ink pot, thrown across the room sprinkling and smearing many items with the contents. Following this all the ink was locked away and Eleonore’s movements were restricted to certain parts of the flat. Water mysteriously filled Eleonore’s boots. Realising that the phenomena usually occurred in the same room or one room away from Eleonore and realising that damage to valuables in the flat would follow if Eleonore was in range, the Countess responded by restricting her movements. Consequently the drawing room and dining room and some bedrooms were put out of bounds. This left Eleonore with the hallway and the domestic quarters of the servants, where she was, as given the same freedom to roam about the place as any other member of domestic staff.
The poltergeist phenomena followed Eleonore to Vienna and can be divided into two stages, object movements, and then marks appearing on her skin six months later. Both categories of manifestation were blamed upon an entity Eleonore called ‘Dracu’ the Romanian word for devil.
The result was one of the closest and lengthiest studies of an adolescent girl at the centre of a poltergeist outbreak; at one stage the Countess attempted a psychoanalytic assessment of Eleonore.
Of course, the name ‘Dracu’ immediately brings to mind the novel Dracula and Bram Stoker’s immortal vampire count. Today a teenage girl who talks of a vampiric entity biting her might be presumed to have become obsessed with romantic and erotic images of vampires in novels, in the cinema and TV. This was not the case with Eleonore since in 1926 the largely cinema-driven cult of the immortal vampire count had not emerged as a social phenomenon– Bela Lugosi had yet to bite anyone on stage or screen. But Eleonore’s ‘Dracu’ did share one unpleasant feature associated with the fictional vampire– he wanted to bite a younger female – with Eleonore his only chosen victim. Bite marks, punctures and abrasions began to appear on her skin and were photographed.
Much was recorded by Countess Wassilko including the following:
Raps on furniture
‘Apports’ of toys and other objects dropping from the air in various rooms in the flat
Object movements, including items of furniture
Automatic writing produced by Eleonore
Disappearance and reappearance of objects, sometimes for weeks
On one occasion a strange voice
Sudden displacement of pins and needles found in Eleonore’s hands and arms.
Objects were moved and seemed to materialise and dematerialise. Locked doors seemed no hindrance to their transportation. These included three valuable chess pieces from a set owned by the Countess’s father; they re-appeared after three days seemingly falling from the air.
The Countess recorded each and every phenomenon, firstly in her hand-written logbooks, vol. I – III, totaling 141 pages which she later turn into a book. In the flat rotas of visitors to the flat taking turns in keeping the log established by the Countess. A total in excess of three thousand phenomena which nearly nine hundred are very well documented. The Countess recorded 67 incidents in one day, and 1050 in three months, whilst Eleonore was in Vienna.
The British researcher Harry Price (1881-1948) believed he witnessed both the dermal phenomena and object movements on his visit to the Countess’s flat, in Vienna, being present when a mirror was mysteriously transported along with the repeated disturbance of books in the flat of the Countess.
Harry Price is a controversial character, a researcher who has been both championed and vilified since his death in 1948. Probably the truth about him lies in between; writer Robert Aickman who knew him for thirty years stated he was neither as good nor as bad as people made out. But it is interesting that his later critics made scarcely any attack on his involvement in the Eleonore Zugun case; the Countess herself lived until 1966 and there were too many other distinguished witnesses who were involved to single out Price in this case. To sustain the fraud theory would require evidence of an international conspiracy of researchers, observers and scientists, many of whom must also have been in league with Countess Wassilko.
The movement of objects gradually shifted almost wholly to the ‘dermal phenomena’ i.e. scratches and bites on her skin and spitting, thus there have been two clearly distinct phases. Eleonore’s body suffered marks, scratches and apparent bites which appeared on her skin which were attributed to attacks by the invisible ‘Dracu’. The bite marks did not correspond to Eleonore’s own teeth; whoever was responsible for the bites, it was not Eleonore inflicting them.
Some of the punctures left impressions like teeth in Eleonore’s skin which was smeared with what appeared to be saliva. On October 25th 1926 Eleonore was examined by a number of doctors in Berlin and a zoologist who tested the ‘saliva’ appearing around bites. The substance was found to be teeming with micro-organisms, different to those found in the mouth of Eleonore, though there was some doubt as to whether it was spittle at all. Swarming in the white substance were staphylococci bacteria, linked with a variety of infections.
Cases of poltergeist scratches and abrasions are recorded historically but exceedingly scattered in the literature of the poltergeist. For example, in September 1910 a case was recorded of a biting/pinching/ rapping poltergeist at Turffontein, South Africa which moved objects and left “nail marks” on the arm of a 16 year-old girl, while an earlier one occurred at the Lamb Inn, Bristol, England in 1761-62, although details of the latter did not become known until 1970 with the re-issue of the obscure 18th century pamphlet.
In the autumn of 1926, the Countess embarked with Eleonore upon a ‘tour’ of some five months’ duration, visiting the leading psychical researchers of that time, covering London, Berlin, Nuremberg, and Munich, during which time records.
Harry Price tested Eleonore, along with a number of interested scientists and observers on her arrival in London, receiving a great deal of publicity. Eleonore was subject to study at the National Laboratory for Psychical Research, leading to an extensive report and much coverage in the British press.
Aside from the punctures there were also stigmatic marks and wealts appearing on Eleonore’s breasts arms and wrists. Psychosomatic marks and lesions have been noted in the case of hysterical patients and stigmatics, but the marks and abrasions on Eleonore gave the impression on being physically inflicted by an external force. However, it appears from later examinations that Eleonore had an exceedingly responsive skin. In its later stages she was accused of manufacturing incidents, a later stage but the issue was complicated by Eleonore seeking to provoke attacks by harming herself, in order that the phenomenon could be recorded on film. it was also induced by her striking herself, suggesting that she was finding an internal way of controlling both her feelings and the phenomena.
In any other context, such marks or injuries would be classed as evidence of self-harm or abuse. Eleonore was accused of faking her injuries (perhaps with assistance from the Countess) but the critics could prove nothing. Numerous individuals in different places were able to witness the phenomena and virtually all observers over the period 1925-27 were satisfied that the majority of marks were not deliberately inflicted injuries suggesting at the very least a psychosomatic origin, a subconscious reaction within the body. Simple fraud – deliberate or unconscious – fails to explain the totality of incidents.
Throughout all of this Eleonore seemed to retain a certain childlike quality, Although moody on occasion, she seems to have been a simple and rather pleasant child. The undeveloped nature of Eleonore’s personality was shown in that many of the apports were toys (‘she was more like a child of eight than a child of 13’ observed Price). Eleonore gave the appearance of loving the Countess very much, though this may have been the attachment of a child who had never known much love or attention hitherto. She did not seem to display altered states of consciousness that often seem to arise in poltergeist cases, and the mystery of what lay behind the physical symptoms remained.
At the end of the tour in 1927 a record of Eleonore’s dermographic phenomena was made on 36mm film. The Countess wanted the movie to be shown only in connection with her introductory text and only to very “selected” audiences. Giving Eleonore’s age as 14 rather than 13 years, it is silent and shows sessions with her conducted by three experimenters, one female and two male in which abrasions of the skin apparently emerge. Altogether, it is a disturbing film.
The phenomena waned after Eleonore reached puberty and began to menstruate, ceasing entirely soon after. With the ceasing of the phenomena, the Countess funded Eleonore to train as a hairdresser and she eventually moved back to Romania. Harry Price traced her in 1945 by which time she had married and in the 1960s she visited Vienna again, a guest of Austrian parapsychologists where she again met with Countess Wassilko. There had been no recurrence of the phenomena. Eleonore died in Romania in 1998.
Something scary dwells at the bottom of Lake Tahoe – at least that’s what they say. We’ll learn about the Lake Tahoe Monster when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: THE LAKE TAHOE MONSTER=====
At 1,645ft-deep Lake Tahoe ranks as the world’s 10th deepest lake. By volume it is the 26th largest lake in the world. It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, and was formed about 2 million years ago. Eight creeks run into the lake. Its primary outflow is the Truckee River, which runs into Pyramid Lake (also known for monster sightings) and into the Great Basin.
Legends of this creature first began to surface in the mid-1800s when members of the Washoe and Paiute Indian tribes began to tell the white settlers about the “monster” dwelling in the depths of the Tahoe basin.
It has been described by eyewitnesses as being over 15-80ft long with an undulating, serpentine body, thick as a barrel and with smooth, dark skin. In modern times it has been given the nickname Tahoe Tessie.
In the 1950s two off-duty police officers out on the lake reported seeing a large, black hump rise from the water and keep speed with the boat, going over 60 mph.
Rick Osborne of Sacramento, California, and three of his friends saw one of the creatures in 1979:
“Myself, along with 3 others watched a large serpent-like creature feeding/hunting in a school of large trout. It was in the middle of winter of 1979 off the dock at Homewood. It was about as big around as a telephone pole and maybe 30′-60′ in length from what we could see of it. It didn’t swim like a snake (side to side). It was diving up and splashing down with it’s [sic] head/neck? into the school of fish, which were leaping out of the water ahead of it. We were speechless for several minutes afterwards.”
Dan Pursley of Napa, California saw the creature in 1982. He writes…
‘In the summer of 1982, my Wife and I had stopped are 22-foot boat to sun ourselves in Lake Tahoe, CA. We were about 400 yards from the shore near Emerald Bay, My wife climbed out to the bow of the boat and held on by holding the windshield behind her. I laid out across the seats. The water was very still and smooth as glass. About five minutes or so later, the boat began rocking as if it was being hit by a boat’s wake speeding by. I sat up but saw nothing around that could have caused this disturbance. As I looked at the water around our boat, there were large air bubbles surfacing. I felt this was rather odd as I am an experienced scuba diver and they didn’t appear to be bubbles coming from a diver’s scuba equipment. Then in the water five feet away from the back end of the boat, I spotted the largest fish tail I ever saw. It was slowly submerging in the water. The whole scene was like a slow motion movie. I jumped up and told my wife to get back in the boat, as we had to leave. She asked, “What happened to you? You look whiter than a ghost.” I didn’t tell my wife what I saw until we got back to shore, nor did I tell anyone else except a few close family members. In the years that passed, I began looking through every book I could find that had pictures of fish tails. I found nothing that resembled what I saw. Then I began looking through dinosaur books with no luck. Finally, I heard about a catfish society in Nevada that published articles about experiences other people had with unusual fish. I learned that long ago when Indians lived in the area, they would talk about a great fish. Many people believed it was a large Sturgeon. What I saw, however, was no sturgeon. In fact in my opinion, what I saw was nothing like anything that ever existed before. It was longer across then the entire back of my boat. It was 10 to 13 feet across with smooth dark green skin and as the tail submerged in the water, it flipped towards the boat opposite to the way a whale’s tail flips. To this day, I cannot understand how something so large could swim so close without hitting my boat and outboard motor. I remained quiet about this incident until now, it was not worth hearing the scepticism, ridicule and disbelief of others.’
In the 1980s two fishermen reported seeing a 15ft-long (4.6m) serpent pass underneath the surface of the water, near Cave Rock.
Several weeks after, two divers reported finding an underwater cave; a creature shot out, leaving the silt stirred. Where the creature had been there were two large fin-prints.
In 1982 Chris Bebe and Jerry Jones, two sober Reno police officers, were out for a day of water-skiing on the deepest part of the lake when something resembling “the top of a Volkswagen Beetle” paced their boat from roughly 6ft away. It was so massive water was sucked down around it. “I knew that whatever it was, it was alive, and I knew it was bigger than my boat,” officer Chris Beebe said, estimating its length at 18 to 30ft. “My immediate reaction was that I would stop moving so that I didn’t lose any of my feet.” Beebe never returned to the lake, and eventually left his job and moved away from Tahoe because of the publicity.
In 1982 Gene St. Denis and a friend were looking out across Lake Tahoe near Cave Rock when they reportedly saw a “blotchy gray creature about 10 to 15 feet in length.” On another occasion St. Denis reported that while swimming over a large hole in the lake bottom, he felt what he described as a large explosion underneath them, followed by what appeared to be a 16ft-long creature swimming away. “We waited for the silt to settle,” said St. Denis, “and found large fin prints where the creature had been.”
In 1984 on 17th June Patsy McKay and Diane Stavarakas saw a 17ft humped animal surface several times.
In 1985 Mike Conway and Virgil Anderson filmed an animal creating a 20-25ft wake at Zeyphr Cove. However, the film, to my knowledge, has never been shown.
In 1991 witness Andrew Navarro saw the creature whilst in a boat off King’s Reach.
He told researcher John Kirk the following…
“I was with a friend and we were on a party boat. There were other people but they were on the other side of the boat so they didn’t see anything. But my friend and I did. The first thing that I saw was water shooting out of the lake, like when a whale blows water out of its blow hole. Then I saw the surface of the water being disturbed by something underneath. This was followed by the hump of a brown creature which came out of the water. It moved round in a circle for a while then it was gone. The movement of the creature was more up and down not side to side like a snake. The sighting lasted for about 3 minutes or so. My first though was that it was a whale, since the creature had to be huge from the size of the hump, but I know that there are no whales in Lake Tahoe. Most of the other people on the boat said it was probably just a fish, but if it was a fish it was as big as a whale. I really don’t remember any more details since I was mostly scared to death, the creature was so close I thought it would eat me.”
In 1992 a witness called Barry from California saw the creature:
“I saw and watched “Tessie” for 30 minutes from the highway on the East side of the lake. I originally saw it swimming while I was driving, not sure what I was seeing, I pulled over to get a better look. It was all black in colour, very much serpentine shaped, like a giant snake. I estimated the length to be 50-60 feet. It just floated in the shallow water maybe 50 to 110 yards off shore like it was sunning itself. Then it made like a snake and swam off to deep water and disappeared. This happened in 1992, and I had a friend with me who saw it also. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would not believe it.”
‘Samantha’ of Incline Village, Nevada saw the creature in 2003:
“About five years ago, my family and I were out boating for the fourth of July. That night as we were watching the fireworks, I heard something swimming next to the boat, and I felt the boat shake from the waves. I looked over and saw a long, serpent like creature swimming by the boat. After I stared at it for a few minutes, it disappeared under water. My mom and step brother saw it as well, and had I not seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. I didn’t know of Tahoe Tessie at the time, but now I know that’s what it was”
In 2004 an off-duty bartender on the boat Tahoe Queen took a picture of a black hump in the water, which he claims is the top of the creature’s head.
In April 2005 Beth Douglas and Ron Talmage, tourists from Sacramento, reported seeing a creature “with three to five humps along its back” in Tahoe.
In October 2007 multiple witnesses saw the creature swimming off City’s Commons Beach. One observer video-taped a dark humped object at the surface.
‘Jack’ of Kings Beach, California, saw the creature in 2008:
“I’ve lived in Tahoe for over ten years and this last month was the first time I saw anything. I was above Incline Village on a stormy day. There was nothing and no one on the lake, except a periscope-looking object on the lake. Then it dipped underwater and disappeared. I sat there looking at the lake for an hour afterward, with not so much as a ripple on the lake. I thought it was myth and played along; now I’m a believer.”
On April 19th 2009 the aunt of ‘Ingrid’ of Studio City, California, saw the animal:
“My aunt and I witnessed Tessie this morning about 300m offshore at Edgewood Golf Club in S Lake Tahoe. The morning was perfectly still and clear; the lake was glass. There were no waves, barely even lapping on the shore, and the only boat out there was some 5 miles or more away. Suddenly a wake churned up, which caught my attention, and I looked out and saw her – four dark blue humps still against the water. No head or tail though. I want to believe it was Tessie but, like all other sightings probably are, it was the generation of standing surface waves from the collision of air and water currents. They appear still in relation to the surface of the water, and in this case the set was drifting very slowly south to north before it stopped (or sank beneath the surface).”
Holly, of Tahoe City, writes…
‘I was born in Truckee and moved to Tahoe City a year ago. During the summer 09 my boyfriend, son and I decided to go to the beach at Kings Beach. On the way there before passing Tahoe Vista I looked down towards the water and saw large humps in the water moving in a circular motion, the water was still with no waves. The humps were dark in colour like a brownish dark green, I didn’t see a head or a tail, but I’m sure it wasn’t a fish because there were no scales and I have never seen a fish of that size or shape in Tahoe. I would compare the size of the humps to those like a big anaconda. I have lived here forever and been to Lake Tahoe many times and have never seen anything like it. I truly know that there is something in Lake Tahoe that has not yet been identified.’
Dr Charles Goldman, limnologist and director of the Tahoe Research Group at UC Davis, organised conferences in Nevada in 1984 and 2004 to discuss “Unidentified Swimming Objects,” where a number of scientists testified they had seen Tessie. The only person to have been to the bottom of Lake Tahoe, Goldman says his ’79 expedition was “inconclusive” in terms of the monster. His possible explanations include frolicking river otters, mirages, colliding boat wakes and the white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). The latter is found in the Sacramento and Feather rivers some 75 miles from the lake. It can reach 20ft and weight 1798 lbs. This may explain the whale-like sightings but the serpentine creatures are harder to account for. The serpentine sightings may be a gigantic mutant strain of eel. However, I do not know if eels occur in the Great Basin.
There is a rumor that Jacques Cousteau dived to the bottom of the lake and filmed the creature but did not release the film saying that “The world was not yet ready for what’s down there”. Of course, the whole thing seems to be no more than a tall story.
In 1998 the U.S. Geological Survey mapped the entire lake bottom of Lake Tahoe with multibeam sonar. They found nothing unusual. However, it is possible that the creatures, if they exist, are not full time residents but move around the waters of the Great Basin. However, it should be noted that none of these connect with the open sea.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“The Psychology of Family Annihilators” by Fiona Guy for Crime Traveler, and Jody Allen for Stay At Home Mum
“Dear Mr. Gable” is from Deranged LA Crimes
“The Romanian Poltergeist Girl” from Euro Paranormal
“The Lake Tahoe Monster” by Richard Freeman for Fortean Zoology
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
And a final thought… “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company”. – Booker T. Washington
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.